Peter Franklin Ball, a lifelong jeweler who faithfully served his clients at his three northern Indiana stores with his precision and willingness to take on any design challenge they could throw his way, died Aug. 30 at the age of 58.
“He had a quiet, calm strength,” says brother James Ball, who helped his older sibling establish Peter Franklin Jewelers in 1988. “He had a lot of patience, and he loved the manufacturing, technical side of the business. He loved the machinery and the ability to do the absolute best job that could be done in the making of a piece.”
Peter Ball came by his love of jewelry through family: His aunt and uncle were German goldsmiths who came to the United States when he was a child. Their mother, who was born in Germany, immigrated here after marrying their father, who was stationed in Germany as a soldier, James Ball says.
Peter Ball started his first store after graduating from Gem City College, a trade school in Quincy, Ill., and working in the jewelry industry for several years. He heard about a jeweler who was retiring through a mutual friend, and the location in their hometown of New Haven, Ind., was a perfect fit, James Ball says. Today, Peter Franklin Jewelers has three locations in Indiana: Fort Wayne, Angola, and New Haven, where Peter was a lifelong resident.
“We started it, but we certainly got to the point where we are now [because of] fantastic staff and a fantastic team,” James Ball says. “Jewelry runs deep in our DNA.”
Peter Ball advanced the business through his creativity, his attention to customer service, and his keen mind, which adored exploring new techniques and machinery, his brother says.
“If there was a new, cutting-edge tool or machine out there, he was all about it,” James Ball says. “To this day, there isn’t anything we say we can’t do, because we know we will figure it out. We will figure out how to meet the customer’s need and do it effectively and efficiently because of Pete. That’s who we are.”
Peter Franklin Jewelers also highlighted Peter Ball’s generosity, according to James Ball. Over the last few years, the jeweler has given back by donating more than $40,000 to a variety of organizations, including the Salvation Army, the National Kidney Foundation, the American Legion Post 330, and many other local groups.
Faith was extremely important to Peter Ball, his brother says; he was a member of St. Louis Besancon Catholic Church, where he served on the school board and parish council and taught classes for children and adults. He previously served on the board of directors for 3Rivers Federal Credit Union and was a board member of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce. He loved camping, motorsports, spending time with his family, his grandchildren, and supporting his daughters at horse shows, James Ball says.
Peter Ball is survived by his wife, Josie; four daughters, Katie (Alex) Wharton, Addie McCarthy, Morgan Ball, and Grace Ball; son Will Ball; grandchildren Amelia Wharton, Layla Wharton, Gianna Wharton, Joseph Wharton, Gemma McCarthy, Bella McCarthy, and Lincoln McCarthy; parents Floyd and Charlotte Ball; sister Vickie (Rick) Seiter; and brother James Ball.
Mass of Christian Burial was held on Sept. 8, 2021, at St. Louis Besancon, New Haven, and the burial was at Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne. The family asks that any memorial contributions be made to the Morgan and Grace Ball Education Fund at any Three Rivers Federal Credit Union Branch.
Top: Peter Franklin Ball, longtime Indiana jeweler, who passed away on Aug. 30. (all photos courtesy of Peter Franklin Jewelers)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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